by Larry Magid
Sometimes the best way to save money on printing is to spend more up front. That’s certainly the case with the new HP Officejet Pro L7680 Color All-in-One multifunction printer/scanner/fax/copier.
At $399, it has a relatively expensive upfront cost, but unlike many inkjet printers from Hewlett-Packard and others, this one isn’t all that expensive to use.
On average, black-and-white prints use up to about 1.5 cents worth of ink, which is a pretty good price, even compared with laser printers that are typically less expensive to operate than inkjets.
Even color is pretty cheap at an average cost of about 6 cents a page for business color (color photos use more ink).
As for speed, HP rates it at up to 35 pages a minute in black and 34 pages a minute in color.
Those tests assume you’re using draft mode. Normal mode is about half that speed.
After working with this printer for several weeks, I must say I’m pretty impressed. Because of its speed and economy, I find myself using it instead of my laser printer.
I also find myself using color where I once would have settled for black.
My wife had to do a weekly newsletter for a class she was teaching and wound up using the printer to print 20 copies of her newsletter, complete with a small color graphic.
With an estimated ink cost of about 3 cents a page, even a substitute teacher can splurge once in awhile.
The model I tested has a 250-sheet input tray, a scanner that can handle legal-size documents with both a flatbed and automatic document feeder.
It has automatic two-side printing which can save a lot of paper. There’s a built-in Ethernet port and USB connections for XP, Vista and Macintosh. An extra 350-sheet paper input tray is available.
One cool feature that doesn’t yet work with Vista (only basic Vista printing and scanning drivers are now available) is called digital filing.
Once you set it up, you can scan directly to a shared network directory, making it easy to get invoices and other documents where they need to be.
The downsides: You have to remove the regular paper to print an envelope or a 4-by-6 print. There is no envelope feeder or printer paper slot.
HP makes a $299 model with fewer features and a $499 version with wireless networking.